MEXICO The government, which has often stressed its support of press freedom, has backed its words with an announcement it plans to privatize large state-owned media introduce a new rule requiring media organizations to pay their own expenses when covering presidential trips. It has also shown readiness to heed and support action to correct anything that could become a threat to free speech - such as proposed environmental legislation affecting newsprint. There have been, however, further reports of intimidating attacks on journalists. While isolated, they are nonetheless a matter cf concern. The most relevant cases in the last few months included: * Francisco Martín Moreno of Excelsior said that on May 11 he, his wife and daughter were victims of an armed robbery. * On March 26, journalist Marcos Antonio Conzález Reyna was assaulted and threatened by the police commander of Reynosa, Tamaulipas, Francisco Morales. * On April1, in Hermosillo, Sonora, a representative of the federal Attorney Ceneral's Office, Castón López, struck the editor of the publication Zero. * On April 15, Tomás Manjarrez, a news photographer for El Universal de Mexico, was beaten and threatened by former leaders of the Chamber of Commerce of Cuernavaca, Morelos. * In Reynosa, Tamaulipas, a state govemment employee abused and threatened to kili reporter Ana Idalia López. * On June 11, Siné Edgar Rafful, nephew of a former federal employee, stormed into the office of Unomásuno in Mexico City and threatened to kili several reporters. * Members of the ruling PRI party in Ciudad Juárez, unhappy with coverage of the elections, stormed the offices of the local newspaper Norte. * A reporter for El Sol de México, María del Refugio Carza Ruiz, was attacked by unknown assailants in Ciudad Victoria, Tamaulipas, on August 5. * In Tapachula, Chiapas, shots were fired at the offices of the newspaper La Opinión de la Costa on August 20. * The home and automobile of Carlos Menéndez, editor and owner of Diario de Yucatán, were vandalized during the night in August. The incident was widely reported nationally. Several days later a phony bomb was sent to the newspaper office. Several months ago, the Mexican government announced its intention to sell the state-owned daily El Nacional to private interests. Likewise, almost a year ago, it announced it would sell the two largest of the four government-owned television stations. The other two would be placed under the control of universities and a group of intellectuals. The president's office announced that starting with an upcoming trip by President Carlos Salinas de Cortari, all media organizations would be required to pay for transportation, lodging, use of press facilities and meals. Up to now, only a few organizations have paid their own expenses, the rest following the general practice of allowing the government to pay everything. A1so, the president's office said it would seek to strike a balance between print and electronic media in accreditation of reporters and to meet the requests of media outside the national capital for accreditation. This measure still has not been put into effect. An environmental regulation bill that could restrict press freedom was proposed. The administration of President Salinas has acknowledged there are flaws in the proposed legislation and it is believed it will be amended. The proposal would set standards on newsprint used by Mexican publishers. If approved in its original form, the measure would ban newsprint imports and the state-run PIPSA company would gain have become the newsprint monopoly that President Salinas announced he was doing away with during the IAPA meeting in Monterrey. The regulations would require that each roll of newsprint used in 1992 and 1993 contain a minimum of 40 per cent of secondary fiber and cellulose by-products, such as the sugar cane stalks used by PIPSA. By 1994, newsprint would be composed of 50 per cent of each type of fiber, and in 1995 and beyond it would have 40 per cent virgin fiber and 60 per cent secondary fiber. The bill contains serious flaws in three aspects: 1. It ignores, continues and aggravates the true environmental problem, because it does not solve the problem of tree eutting and increases the amount of waste. 2. It departs from international standards in setting excessively high quotas for the amount of secondary fiber and cellulose by-products in each roll of paper. 3. It sets unilateral obstacles to free trade by banning imports and in doing so, ironically, contributes to the deforestation of Mexican forests. The result of these circumstanees not only would not bring about the desired environmental benefits but they also would infringe press freedom beca use it would once again hold media organizations hostage to the supply of raw material.